Sunday, April 12, 2015

The King and I ****

Lincoln Center Theater has revived this Rodgers and Hammerstein musical in a lavish production directed by Bartlett Sher. While it doesn’t reach the dizzying heights of his “South Pacific” at LCT, it is still very good indeed. It should come as no surprise that Kelli O’Hara is superb as Anna. Ken Watanabe, with the unenviable task of playing a role virtually owned by Yul Brynner, acquits himself quite honorably. Ashley Park and Conrad Ricamora are fine as the young lovers. Ruth Ann Miles is an exemplary Lady Thiang. Paul Nakauchi is good as the prime minister, as is Jon Viktor Corpuz as the young prince. The children could not be any cuter. Xiaochuan XIe is excellent as Eliza in “The Small House of Uncle Thomas” ballet. Christopher Gatelli’s choreography, based on Jerome Robbins’s original, is quite good. The costumes by Catherine Zuber are very attractive. I have mixed feelings about Michael Yeargen’s scenic design. The arrival of the ship in Bangkok harbor is quite a spectacle, but his treatment of the palace is unconventionally bland. Except for ornate carvings on the pillars, the set is extremely plain, dominated by an ominous grey wall across the back. I thought the wall symbolized how cut off the palace was from the world, but then it lifted briefly for no apparent reason during the second act. The music retains all its appeal and the plot still tugs at the heartstrings. While I think about 10 minutes of judicious cuts would be a good idea, the length isn’t really a problem. It was a treat to see it again so lovingly produced. Running time: 2 hours 55 minutes including intermission.

No comments: